A new breed of tween-targeted toy/web high-tech hybrids that integrate physical toy play with the internet via USB ports stood out as a big product trend at New York Toy Fair this year. Our older sibling KidScreen covered it in our February issue. But lest you think younger kids have been left out of the action, think again. This fall, Fisher-Price will launch Easy-Link.
Aimed squarely at preschoolers and their parents, the Easy-Link hooks up to a PC via a USB port and then kids can pop one of several character figures into the base of the device. Once the character fob is in place, the internet browser will automatically log into that property’s website, where parents can let their kids play games and explore pretty much worry-free – children cannot leave the specific site and can’t open anything else on the computer’s desktop, so parental files will stay secure.
The base unit (US$30) comes with Fisher-Price, Elmo and The Wiggles fobs. Additional fobs in the form of Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Barney, Dragon Tales, Arthur and Clifford will be sold separately.
Fisher-Price VP of marketing Lisa Mancuso says the initial group of sites hosts roughly 10 million visitors per month, and internal research has shown preschoolers stay engaged online longer when they’re using a favorite character. Easy-Link will be sold in the preschool aisle at mass retail, and look for Fisher-Price to add to the device’s roster of licenses in the coming months.